My first introduction to twenty one pilots was “Stressed Out,” and my immediate reaction was, “What the hell is going on?” My friend kept recommending this oddball hip hop/indie/electro-pop band to me, and every single time, I told her, “I don’t think this band is for me.” Famous last words. One night, at about 11pm, as I was scouring the depths of the internet, I figured I’d finally give this band a shot, and listened to their first Fueled By Ramen album, Vessel, in full. I cried; I rocked out; I was instantly hooked. Literally twenty-four hours later, I was purchasing the most expensive concert tickets I’ve ever paid for, because I knew that if I didn’t hear “Guns for Hands,” “Holding Onto You,” “Car Radio,” or “Lane Boy,” live, I would not have truly lived.
I honestly forgot about the show, since I had purchased the tickets so far in advance, so shoutout to Ticketmaster for sending me a reminder email, because otherwise, I would have missed out on the best show of my life. I make this claim after every concert I go to, but there was something cathartic and unifying and utterly joyful about joining a sold-out crowd in singing along. Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun are a mighty duo, creating powerful, emotional, and energizing music.
The show opened with Chef’Special, a band from the Netherlands. Sadly, I missed most of their short set, as my friend and I navigated our way to the floor. But what I heard was definitely enjoyable, and I will have to check them out later. Following Chef’Special was Mutemath, a really dope alt-rock band with electronic, space/galaxy-themed vibes (trust me, listen to their song, “Vitals,” and you’ll understand), and one of twenty one pilots’s favorite bands. The two openers were brought back on stage for a set of covers, in which the group sang a medley of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” The Top Notes’s “Twist and Shout,” and House of Pain’s “Jump Around.” It worked, it really did, especially when Josh started playing the trumpet, and the entire group busted out some pretty sweet choreo.
When the sheet blocking the stage dropped, and twenty one pilots was revealed, the crowd went wild. Using a bit of stage magic, it appeared that right after singing “Heavydirtysoul,” Tyler teleported to the upper wings of the venue, which was a mind-blowing way to kick everything off. Lighting-wise, the show was excellent, used to emphasize and highlight the music. Tyler whipped out his ukelele for a few songs, and even threw in a medley of the band’s older music, paying homage to the tracks that got them where they are today. During this moment, the band transitioned from the mainstage to a B-stage, at the back of the floor, instigating a mad sprint to the back in order to get a good view (to the five people I ran into in the dark, I apologize). But it was damn worth it, as I got an amazing view of both Tyler and Josh as they performed.
Standouts for this concert are difficult to pick out, because as a whole, this was an amazing performance. But definitely noteworthy things were “Guns for Hands,” where I shamelessly teared up, and “Car Radio.” During the latter, Josh once again transitioned from the mainstage to the B-stage, getting onto a high platform to perform the exquisite, piercing, heartwrenching ending.
One of the most amazing things about this concert was the end; not only was the closer, “Trees,” super energetic and beautiful, the vast majority of the audience stayed to see the show to the very end. We have all witnessed audience members start leaving as the band performs their last encore song, trying to get a jump on the post-show traffic. Not the case here. It was heartening and lovely, especially when Tyler closed with, “We are twenty one pilots, and so are you.” There is a true, deep connection between the band and each and every fan, and I felt deep in my heavy, dirty soul that Tyler meant every word he said.